Wednesday, June 6, 2012

MARS BOOK. FIRE BOOK.

A book on Mars, a book about fire, and so many more are four letter words.

Word reaches us today about the death of Ray Bradbury, author, at the age of 91.

Although best known for his novel Fahrenheit 451, and his collection of stories in The Martian Chronicles, he wrote dozens of novels and hundreds of short stories during science fiction's golden age. I remember reading Something Wicked This Way Comes when I was younger, and this and many more of his stories remain in my memory today. He was not the hard-core science fiction writer of many of his contemporaries, but focused on the human condition, sometimes using technology as a background.

I still remember the last time I watched the movie version of Fahrenheit 451, and marveled at how the vision of the book translated so well to the movie... almost better than it was in book form, in many places. We began to really see and understand what a world without words might look like. I still can't forget the final scene... nor the opening "credits". Thinking about that story today, I realize that it would even be more powerful set in an Internet age... despite Bradbury having a strong disinterest in computers.

Two weeks ago I heard a broadcast of a radio show from 1951, featuring the work of "that young author" Ray Bradbury - it was a 30 minute radio version of The Martian Chronicles, and although it had some good elements, overall it was terrible, gutting the story and the messages behind it. A week later they aired a 30 minute treatment of just one of the stories, and it was tremendously more enjoyable.

Just this weekend I was watching a kids show that featured a character named Bradbury. I thought it was a neat homage, until I realized that he was set in a world of robots. "But Asimov was the robot author!" I complained to myself, although Bradbury had many of his own automatons.

NPR reported this afternoon that his wish was that he be buried on Mars. I hope that someday, soon, that wish can be carried out. Farewell, Ray Bradbury... one of the Martians among us.